The return to The Hot Zone

Ed Rybicki ED at MOLBIOL.UCT.AC.ZA
Mon Jan 22 05:20:01 EST 1996


> From:          hasse at PANIX.COM (Hans Andersson)
> If it was just a lethal virus hiding forever in the deep forest where
> nobody lived - Yes, then you might be right. But, Richard Preston is, in my
> opinion, correct in his observation that Ebola is a virus trying to break
> out - out
> of the jungle, out of the monkey species, and out of Africa...

Let's not get too anthropomorphic here: Ebola viruses are viruses 
which HAPPEN to infect humans - and other primates - who are 
incidental to their NATURAL transmission cycle (whatever that is).  
They are NOT trying to 'break out" of anywhere, any more than 
influenza viruses deliberately and maliciously mutate their 
haemagglutinins in order to infect people who have been infected with 
flu previously.  What happens is that primates and humans intrude on 
a natural cycle of transmission between as yet undiscovered natural 
hosts of the virus, and get seriously sick.  But, as I have pointed 
out elsewhere, if in a city of over 400 000 people, only 400 or so 
were affected, in the worst pssible scenario short of inoculating the 
virus into Bombay or Calcutta beggars....where is the problem?

                     Ed Rybicki, PhD  
      Dept Microbiology     |  ed at molbiol.uct.ac.za   
   University of Cape Town  | phone: x27-21-650-3265
   Private Bag, Rondebosch  |  fax: x27-21-650 4023
      7700, South Africa    |   
    WWW URL: http://www.uct.ac.za/microbiology/ed.html      
                                        
"And then one day you find, ten years have got behind you"



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